Korea is where it’s at!

This is for all the collectors out there. For me Korea has been the go to place for collectors editions of movies. The folks at Plain Archive, Nova Media and KimchiDVD put so much effort into their releases it’s staggering. 





They’re the logos you want to be looking out for. Seriously, there has been some great releases coming from Korea, with I Saw The Devil from Plain Archive, Drive from Nova Media and the Amelie triple pack from Kimchi being the standouts. 





I highly recommend checking their sites out for upcoming releases. 

JM



The Untold Story (1993)

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Wong Chi Hang (Anthony Wong) is the owner of the Eight Immortals Restaurant in Macao. His establishment makes the finest pork buns anywhere, but just what exactly *is* inside those tasty buns? After a slew of body parts wash up on the beach Officer Lee (Danny Lee) and his team are led to the Eight Immortals Restaurant, and begin to wonder just how Wong Chi Hang came to be the proprietor.

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A series of flashbacks shed some light on the grisly reality of how Wong Chi Hang came to run the restaurant. After cheating the owner at Mahjong, he butchered the owner, his wife and their kids, so that he could own the restaurant. As the police investigate what happened to the previous owners, Wong tries to cover his tracks, dispatching anyone that might expose him.

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This is one seriously twisted movie. I have long heard of the extreme nature of the Category III movies from Asia, but never expected them to be like this. Seriously, the things that are shown here would never be allowed in Hollywood. Anthony Wong is a tour-de-force as Wong Chi Hang, so it comes as no surprise that he won an award for his role. The movie pulls no punches in terms of gore, bodies are gutted and mutilated by Wong, and you don’t even want to know what he does with a bunch of chopsticks, honestly, I knew there was a reason I use a knife and fork. The team of officers do come off as bumbling, and they’re more like the comic relief. Danny Lee begins every scene he is in with some bit of skirt on his arm, which was funny, but didn’t fit in with the overall tone of the movie. I found that it was quite jarring in terms of tone, and that the film would have worked better if it was all played straight.

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It is definitely worth a watch if you can get your hands on it. It is really shocking though, the raw intensity that Anthony Wong brings to his role really is a sight to behold. The guy is a legend of Asian cinema, and he is hands down one of my favourite Asian actors. However it is not for the squeamish, so if you don’t like gore, steer well clear.

4/5

JM

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A Bittersweet Life (2005)

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I remember when I first saw this movie. I was working in Blockbuster (RIP), and as we were allowed free rentals I decided to give it a whirl as I’d heard a lot about it and thought it’d be rude not to really since I didn’t have to pay. I can say that I was blown away. This film really is fantastic. It’s not a fluke either, there are some amazing movies that have come out of South Korea, all of which are well worth seeking out.

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The story concerns an enforcer and hotel manager called Sun-Woo (played by the awesome Byung-hun Lee) who is tasked by his ruthless boss to shadow his mistress named Hee-Soo, who he suspects is cheating while he is away. He is told by his boss to kill Hee-Soo and whoever she is seeing if it turns out to be true. Sun-Woo begins to follow Hee-Soo and slowly begins to develop an attraction for her. He discovers that she is cheating on his boss and savagely beats the mystery man, only stopping when he sees how distraught Hee-Soo is becoming. He promises to spare their lives if they promise never to see each other again. Sun-Woo’s boss finds out that Sun-Woo disobeyed an order and tortures him to find out why, leaving him for dead. He doesn’t bank on Sun-Woo killing anyone in his way on his quest for revenge.

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The action is incredible. There are some blistering fight scenes, particularly one in a warehouse where Sun-Woo takes on almost 30 people. There are also some fantastic shoot outs and one particularly memorable scene when Sun-Woo goes to buy some guns which is comical and nail bitingly tense all at once.

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Byung-hun Lee is fantastic as Sun-Woo. Most movie fans will recognise him from the G.I. Joe movies where he plays Storm Shadow, but he has made some fantastic movies in his native country. One of the films that he made which is definitely on par with this is ‘I Saw The Devil’. I have done a review of that movie, however to read it you will need to visit my good friends blog http://www.stigmatophiliablog.wordpress.com as it is appearing as an exclusive on their blog soon.

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This film really does rock. If you are one of those people that doesn’t watch subtitled movies, for whatever reason, then I urge you to break that habit and watch this. It really is fantastic. It’s full of bone crunching action, awesome fight scenes and blisteringly good shoot outs. Seriously, give it a go.

5/5

JM

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Pieta (2012)

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I have a penchant for Asian cinema. I love it. My favourite at the moment has to be Korean cinema. I find the Koreans have a skill for capturing the worst traits of humanity on film. They show the ugliness of the human soul and the real reactions of people when put in situations for which there is no peaceful solution.

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Pieta is no different. Kang-Do is a ruthless debt collector, who will employ any method necessary to get the money back from those who owe. His life is thrown into disarray when a mysterious lady appears claiming to be his mother who abandoned him. Initially sceptical Kang-Do warms to the woman only for her to mysteriously vanish again, which sets in motion a chain of violent events in Kang-Do’s search for the truth.

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Kim Ki Duk never pulls punches in his movies, you only have to watch ‘The Isle’ to understand this, but his films are an art form in the purist sense. Not for the sensitive souls, but those who want to open their minds and look deeper into movies than what is on the screen.

4/5

JM

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